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Published Mar 1, 2024

Pitcher with Chartreuse and Hamada glaze detail.

There are some ceramic glaze surfaces that just stop you in your tracks and leave you wondering “how’d they do that?” A lot of times, these dynamic surfaces are the result of layering and combining more than one glaze. If you know the secrets and a couple of good recipes, you can do some amazing things too!

Julia Galloway has some of the most exciting pottery surfaces out there. Here, in an excerpt from Ceramics Monthly’s Guide to Materials and Glazes, she shares some of her cone 6 glaze recipes and glaze application techniques. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor

I layer glazes over and next to each other to create depth and support the ideas in my work. Putting glazes into a few different categories helps me to better understand color and surface to develop ideas for surface decoration. First is a paint-chip glaze: a glaze of straight color. It’s extremely reliable and what you see is what you get, over and over again. Second is a historical glaze: a glaze with strong historical ties.  

The glaze itself can influence the content in the work. The Water Blue Glaze I work with mimics the high-alkaline glazes from early Iranian pots. Third is the phenomena glaze: a glaze that changes when it is fired. From this type of glaze, you gain a sense that the material has had an experience of firing or time passage. When it fumes and develops crystal growth, Some Bright Green is an example of this kind of glaze. Often a glaze will fit into two of these categories.

I fire to a soft cone 6 in a soda kiln. During the glaze firing, I introduce very little soda. My kiln is two shelves deep (12×24-inch shelves) and I spray the soda solution into the kiln when cone 5 gets soft. I use about 2 pounds of soda ash mixed with two gallons of hot water. I fire in as clean an atmosphere as possible; however, I always get a little reduction when I spray in the soda.

**First published in 2017.